Russia & Former Soviet Union

Kiev has secret plan if Zelensky is killed – Politico

Ukraine would likely be run by a governing council influenced by various ministers, the outlet has reported

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky reads a document during a meeting with the German Chancellor on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius. ©  Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

If Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky were to be killed, he could be replaced by a select team of senior officials, with his legal successor acting as a figurehead, Politico reported on Monday, citing sources.

The country’s constitution clearly states that if the president is unable to fulfill his duties, it is the chairperson of the Ukrainian parliament – currently Ruslan Stefanchuk – who should take over. However, according to the report, the latter figure is not particularly popular with the Ukrainian public, with an approval rating of only around 40%.

According to Ukrainian officials and analysts interviewed by the outlet, this means that, in the event of Zelensky’s untimely demise, the country would be steered by a governing council. While Stefanchuk would be its formal head, it would also consist of other members, including Andrey Ermak, the head of the presidential office, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, and Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov, Politico said.

Valery Zaluzhny, who currently heads Ukraine’s military, is also expected to retain his post, according to the report.

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Adrian Karatnycky, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, told Politico that Kiev had “a strong leadership team” and “we would see collective government.” He added that if “something terrible happened to Zelenskyy it would not be as decisive as you might think.”

However, Politico also warned that, while this outcome may have a limited impact domestically due to mixed opinions about the Ukrainian president and a strong sense of national unity, it would shock Kiev’s backers in the West, where Zelensky is widely regarded as an icon of resistance.

In May 2022, the Ukrainian president himself said that Kiev had a “Plan B” accounting for the possibility of his death, adding that the country’s cabinet had been split into two so that Ukraine would not be left defenseless should the worst come to pass.

In March 2022, Mikhail Podoliak, Zelensky’s senior adviser, said that his boss had survived more than a dozen attempts on his life, with several Western media outlets speculating in the early days of the conflict that Moscow intended to assassinate the Ukrainian president.

However, in April of the same year, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov dismissed the notion that Russia had ever had such plans.


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